Noticing one’s ability to grow, develop, and master a series of skill sets is empowering than a grade or a number. Grades and number can be arbitrary, subjective, meaningless, and/or irrelevant to one’s progress towards mastery of skill and content if it’s not given context.

On this learning journey in engaging my students in the S.T.E.A.M Adventures,  I found a little treasure called the progress bar that many gamified sites used such as Amazon, Nike, and many games use.  I decided to explore this tool and figure out how I might use the progress bar to inform one’s progress.  Based upon the motivational needs of the students, there are some students who can keep score by looking at their grade and other’s who who don’t do it frequently enough not because they don’t take responsibility but because they switch between two systems such Google Classroom and then Synergy (our grading system) or (my learning management system) and Synergy.  Switching between systems is redundant and cognitively overwhelming as I notice myself last year dragging myself to look at assignment score and manually transferring them into Synergy.  It’s a drag and it’s too much work for a teacher let alone for our learners.  There had to be an easier to keep everything in one system so our kids can see their progress in that one system ONLY.

On the learning management system that I developed, (Jedi Innovation), I decided to add a progress bar.  Training my kids how to interpret the progress bar,  I’ve noticed that there are about 80% more students attuned to their progress because the progress bar gives them particular cues to show that they have MET, PARTIALLY MET, and/or NOT MET the objective of a particular mission.  This data is based upon how many students in a given period that are looking up their grades on Synergy vs. interacting with the progress bar over the course of a week during class in all of my classes this past week.  There are 4 colors:

  • BLUE: The student hasn’t provide evidence of learning.
  • RED: The student provided evidence of learning but haven’t MET the requirements of the mission.  If they have not met the requirements of the mission, I left them feedback on how to improve in the comment section of the mission.
  • YELLOW: The student provided evidence of learning but I didn’t evaluate the evidence. (This is a great way for my learners to keep me accountable in keeping up with my job.)
  • GREEN: Students provided evidence of learning and MET the requirements of the mission.

Their goal is to make sure that their progress bar is all green which equates to the grade they want which is their “A”.  That “A” means that have MET the requirements of all the missions in that particular quest.  The “A” now has context, it’s relevant, has meaning, and now affects the overall sense of achievement because now they know what they accomplished. Because of this phenomenon, they are not focusing on the “A”, they are focusing on meeting the objectives of each of the mission which is where I want them to be at.

From the teacher’s point of view, the progress bar informs me of where particular students are at and where the class is at.  If a particular students are lagging behind on the missions, then I know where they are at in that instance of time and I can support them in accomplishing the objective of that mission.  As a class,  if 10-15 students are between 80 – 100% completed of the current quest, then I move on to the next quest.  If not,  I stay in the current quest and support students in meeting the objective of the missions until 10-15 student have accomplish 80-100% of the quest.

My challenge to you is how might you show progress and achievement that is meaning, relevant, rewarding, and informative?

The gamification of the Jedi Innovation Site, a.k.a, has led to more discoveries in engagement and motivational strategies.  Please read more on future discoveries of gamification in education coming soon on the STEAM Blog.  Until then . . .



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